Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Maya's Notebook

The new book is out! Well, so far it’s only out in Spanish; look for it in English next year. To celebrate the launch of Maya’s Notebook (El cuaderno de Maya), Isabel is jetting off to Spain, where she will present the novel at the Madrid Book Fair from June 7 to 12. Later this summer, she and Maya’s Notebook will make their way down to South America. More about that coming soon.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Beading Times

I recently visited Isabel at home. It was a beautiful sunny day but I wasn’t there to sit and chat in the garden. I was interested in seeing what she’s been up to with her favorite hobby.

Because she is not writing a book this year, Isabel has been filling her days with do-gooder causes and such time-killing activities as...beading. Yes, beading. Trust me, the woman makes a mean necklace! Among other talents too numerous to recount just now, but of which I shall endeavor to write about in the future, Isabel creates really lovely jewelry. Her jewelry isn’t for sale, though. Isabel gives her necklaces to her friends and family, as well as to various charitable organizations to be sold as auction items (which by the way are ALL spoken for so don’t bother to ask).

Here she is amongst some of her creations. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

This Friday!

Catch Isabel this Friday, May 20th 12 – 2pm at Book Passage in Corte Madera, Calif.,  where she’ll be at a Literary Luncheon and book reading celebrating the paperback release of Island Beneath the Sea.  The ticket price of $55 includes lunch and a signed book.
Call (415) 927-0960 ext. 1 to reserve a seat.
Book Passage • Corte Madera Store
51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, California  94925

Can't attend the event? Order a signed copy!
Please note: lunch is catered by Insalata’s Restaurant. Seriously tasty food!

You can also find Isabel on May 25th 7 – 9pm at the Rafael Theater, in San Rafael, Calif., for an on-stage conversation and introduction of  Nostalgia for the Light, a Chilean documentary by Patricio Guzmán.

Find out more by clicking here.  You can see trailers for the  Nostalgia for the Light and take a look at the film’s official website by clicking here. Isabel will introduce and discuss a special screening of filmmaker Patricio Guzmán's poetic documentary about Chile's Atacama Desert and its significance for astronomy, archaeology and historical memory. Located more than 10,000 feet above sea level, the Atacama Desert is one of the driest places on earth, its thin atmosphere and negligible humidity making it a magnet for astronomers, an ideal location for observatories and an important archive of pre-Columbian civilization. But it was also the site of a concentration camp created in the 1970s by the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, and today not only scientists wander there, but also mothers and relatives looking for the remains of political prisoners who "disappeared." Veteran Chilean filmmaker Patricio Guzmán has dedicated much of his career to the remembrance of events following the military coup of September 11, 1973, and this personal and beautiful film essay has, in the words of The New York Times, "a moral as well as a metaphysical weight." In Spanish with English subtitles. Writer/Narrator/Director: Patricio Guzmán. (Chile 2010) 90 min. plus discussion.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


After returning home following a little gathering at Isabel’s over the weekend, I was plagued by one nagging question: Who the hell was that German guy at the party? And why was he so protective of the Isabel???

When I inquired the next day, here is what Isabel had to say:

Dear Sarah,

In 2006 I had the honor of being one of the eight women who carried the Olympic flag at the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.  Unfortunately I was right behind Sofia Loren and in front of Susan Sarandon, so nobody noticed me. Also, in most of the pictures I am under the flag; you can only see my feet. Anyway…getting back to your question. For the event I had a German bodyguard, Thorsten Deckert: 6.7 feet of pure muscle, crew-cut hair, black leather, weapons. He looked very threatening but soon I discovered that he had the soft heart of a maiden and we became friends. He has come to visit us in the Bay Area a couple of times, traveling all the way from the Black Forest region of southwestern Germany.  This time he brought me the most unusual present: one of his police uniforms. It's not exactly my size but I will definitely wear it. In the picture I’m sending you, Thorsten is on the right.

Isabel and Thorsten the German Guy at the party! In case you can't tell, Isabel is on the left....thanks for clarifying that Isabel.

Isabel and Sophia Loren at the 2006 Winter Olympics.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

No Calling Out, Raise Your Hand

I saw the documentary American Teacher with Isabel on Tuesday night. It was moving, overwhelming and made me love (even more) all the teachers out there doing what I think is the toughest job. I work in my daughter’s school one day a week as a teacher's aide, and I can tell you one day a week is all I can do. It is the hardest (and the most rewarding) day of my week by far. 
      American Teacher was produced by former public school teacher Nínive Calegari and Dave Eggers, the author of several extraordinary books and co-founder (with Calegari) of 826 Valencia, a very successful writing program for school kids in San Francisco that has been copied in several cities across the U.S. For More information check out the Teacher Salary Project.

Here is what Isabel had to say after seeing the film:

Dear Sarah,
I felt so angry and embarrassed watching this documentary! We spend $640 billion annually on the military, more than all the other countries in the world COMBINED (and we don't have any enemies to speak of), but we don't invest the minimum needed for education. We are lagging behind most Western nations in the quality of education. This problem has been studied, documented, discussed extensively and is now a hot issue, but no one is really addressing the need to change the status of teachers, value them, and give them a decent income. That's where our taxes should be going!! The film Waiting for Superman blamed the failure of our educational system on the quality of the teachers and the fact that, due to the unions, it's hard to get rid of the bad ones. American Teacher considers the problem from a different perspective, one that exposes the reality of any normal teacher's life: the low salaries; the few incentives or economic increments; the incredibly long hours, up to 65 or 70 hours per week (and that’s not counting the extra jobs that most of them have in order to make ends meet); the lack of respect from the community; and the fact that they have to buy didactic material, even pencils, out of their own money because public schools can't provide what is needed. The work conditions are so bad that few college students even consider teaching as a career, and most teachers quit after four of five years on the job.  The documentary follows the struggles of several teachers, calls for action, and raises some important questions. What sort of nation do we want to be? How are we going to fend in the global economy if we can't even prepare our kids to compete?